Going to university is not just about the qualification you get at the end of it. It’s the overall experience! It’s sensible, therefore, to try and get a feel for what it’s like to be a student there. Read through the prospectus, look on the website, and consider transport links if you’ll be commuting.
Also, where possible, read what students say and the advice they give. In this issue we speak to students Leah De La Hunty (University of the West of England – UWE) and Arohi Bangera (Harvard University). They rate their universities in terms of facilities, clubs, and events, tell us what they think about the town, and explain why they made the choice they did.
Leah De La Hunty
University of the West of England (UWE), UK
I applied to five universities across the UK, all of which were in cities that I had visited before, aside than Bristol. This made the prospect of going there more exciting, but also daunting. I spoke with people on social networking sites that attended the various universities to see what they thought, and out of all of them, I got the best response from students at UWE.
Currently, I am in the third year of my Fashion Communication undergraduate course. I believe that this course has prepared me to work in the fashion industry, and has provided me with a vast portfolio of work that I am proud of and feel I can take to employers after I graduate. The course has many guest speakers come in from various professions, from art directors to PR and marketing managers. We can then have direct contact with these professionals to gain work experience.
Perhaps the best thing about the university is my lecturers. All of my course lecturers come from different creative backgrounds and help to mould us into industry-ready creatives. From graphic design, e-commerce, and fashion photography, they offer different outlooks on the industry, which is great to have, as not every student wants to go down the same route.
The students at UWE are heavily involved with how their course is run and give feedback on what they would like to change. I had the opportunity of being a student rep in my first and second years, and I delivered feedback on behalf of my cohort to my course leader. We were then given steps on how they were going to action each of the feedback points given. This has helped to tailor the course to our exact needs, which I think is really important.
Bristol is famous for its nightlife. It’s such a vibrant and inclusive city; there is something for absolutely everyone. There is never a quiet night here. There are many student social nights throughout the year, especially at the start of term – this is a great way to meet other students and expand your social circle. Many people come to Bristol for what it has to offer; people rarely leave to seek other things.
The best thing about going out and about in Bristol is the bus service. I have never felt the need to drive or catch a cab, unlike some of my friends at other universities. The bus service in Bristol runs 24 hours and offers great student deals.
Bristol is a very liberal and open-minded city, where people from different backgrounds and places are welcomed with open arms. It is the number one city in the UK for students remaining after they graduate – that tells you something!
I feel like Bristol is my home now. I don’t consider where I grew up in the north-west of England as my home anymore. I have a great social circle, a lovely house, and many prospects for after university. I really like Bristol.
Harvard University, USA
I chose Harvard because of the programme they were offering. The first step in my selection process was identifying areas that interest me, which are technology, design, and development. Once I had that sorted, I began looking at universities that would offer a flexible programme. After a rigorous search, Harvard and Stanford were the only two universities that were offering me a programme that interested me. The programme at Stanford was a Masters in Design Impact, but I ended up opting for a Masters in Digital Media Design at Harvard University because it managed to meet a lot of my requirements.
The programme is blended with online and on-campus learning, which means I get to pursue my degree while working a full-time job and travelling to campus as much as is needed. My degree combines the areas of technology, digital media, design, business, development, and art. Other factors that contributed to why I chose Harvard include its legacy and the opportunities that it would open up to me once I had my degree.
The student experience at Harvard is amazing. I am currently the director of communications for the Harvard Extension Student Association, one of the student bodies at the university. Through this student body and several clubs at the university, we can bridge the gap between distance learning and on-campus students. The facilities, clubs, and events do a great job of building a community that is inclusive and all-encompassing. The people are friendly and, most importantly, you learn a lot from one another.
I absolutely love the city of Boston, too. I like to call it a student town because the entire area is dedicated to Harvard. Our classes spread across the whole city at different locations, and you feel very much at home. People are friendly and always willing to help. Since the town is as big as the campus, you will definitely get lost, but there are students and other locals always ready to help. I visit the town regularly. Some of my favourite attractions are the Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, the Memorial Church, Boston Back Bay, and the Charles River. I love museums of all kinds, and I am in luck because Boston has way too many! The best part is that I get access to all of them for free or a discounted rate with my Harvard student card.